10 Tips on Hosting a Stress-Free Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving

I've been hosting Holiday dinners for nearly a decade since I was 23 years old (you do the math), and I've learned the hard way which tips really work and which ones don't, though I'm always learning new ones. I've found that the most simple and seemingly obvious entertaining tips are not only the best but often the most easily overlooked. Whether you're new to hosting dinner parties or simply a little rusty and need a refresher course, here are my top ten tips for hosting Thanksgiving dinner

1. Properly Prep the Turkey. This may sound like a no-brainer, but make sure you defrost the turkey well ahead of time. There is nothing worse on Thanksgiving morning than realizing your turkey is still frozen on the inside. Never thaw a turkey at room temp. You should either defrost it in the fridge or in cold water. It may take longer than you think, so don't plan on thawing your frozen turkey overnight the day before. When thawing a turkey in the fridge, allow for 1 day of thawing for every 4 pounds. It's best to have it thawed well in advance so you can brine it the day before (you want it fully thawed for the brining process). You can find more info on the Butterball website on how to thaw a frozen turkey. Pictured above: Thanksgiving Recipes for a Crowd by Food & Wine

2. Plan Out Your Dishes in Detail. It's important to have each dish coordinated, especially on a day like Thanksgiving. Make a timed list in order from first to last. When the big day arrives, and you have a house full of loud in-laws, you'll be happy to have a list to refer to, especially if you're as scatterbrained as I am. I also like to set out ingredients grouped by dish, along with the pots/pans needed. It serves as a great visual guide during the cooking process. Pictured above: 15 Pies You Should Stuff Your Face with on Thanksgiving via Cosmopolitan

3. Plan and Arrange the Serving Dishes the Day Before. At least a day before Thanksgiving, designate each recipe with its own serving dish and lay them out where you plan to present them, like on your buffet or table. It's one less thing to thing about on Thanksgiving, and that way if you use special serving dishes just for the holidays, you won't waste time digging around for that turkey platter when you should be cooking. Pictured above: Fresco Turkey Plates via Pottery Barn

4. Serve Up Antipasti. The most annoying thing for me on Thanksgiving is a hungry person hovering like a vulture. You need some cold ready-to-serve appetizers to keep your hungry guests at bay so you can focus on cooking the dinner. An antipasti tray of cold meats, cheeses, bread and olives is the perfect thing to set out for a dinner party. Guests can pick and choose and assemble their own appetizers. Pictured above: Cheese Plate Presentation Tips by Martha Stewart

5. Make Dishes Ahead of Time. For any dinner party, I always include make-ahead recipes on purpose so I can get a head start a few days before. I like to include a few I can make completely ahead of time and a few I can at least start prepping the day before.

6.Clean as You Go. Dishes pile up so fast during a big dinner. It seems like simple advice, but it's some of the best I could give after ten years of hosting holiday dinners. It really helps to stay on top of the dishes as you go.

7. Have a Back-Up Plan. Though some stores will be open for those last-minute grocery runs, chances are they'll be out of crucial Thanksgiving ingredients. Stock up on extra items that can turn into last-minute dishes like frozen veggies and bakery goodies, in case one of your recipes go south.

8. Grab a Co-Host. If you're a single hostess (or if your hubby is glued to the fu@$ing couch), enlist a friend to help with answering the door and making everyone feel comfortable so you don't have to play both cook and hostess all by yourself.

9. Just Say Yes!! When guests asks if there is anything they can do to help, don't be shy! Give them something, anything to do. If you're a control freak like me, you may want full control of the cooking, but you can always use an extra hand with chopping and clean-up.

10. Skip the Fancy Cocktails. Unless you're having a chic cocktail party, you needn't give yourself more recipes to worry about. For Thanksgiving dinner, all you need is a few options when it comes to festive beverages, like beer and wine. Better yet, ask one of your guests to bring a bottle of wine.

Most importantly, RELAX!! No one is going to remember if your place settings were perfect. They'll remember the yummy food and the smile on your face. No amount of "perfect" is worth spending the holidays stressed and exhausted.

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Comments

  1. Step Eleven: make sure your idiot brother in law gets lost somewhere in the woods well in advance.

    ReplyDelete

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